When You Can't Attend A Writer's Conference

We've all heard the advice that writers need to attend writer's conferences. I don't disagree with that advice. However, for the last two years my budget and family schedule have. So I've wondered if other writer's have the same dilemma. What options does a writer have when they simply cannot attend a "live" conference?

One option is to purchase session tapes/CDs from a past year's conference. First, it's a lesser monetary investment. Second, you can take much better notes from it because you can stop and restart wherever and whenever you want. Third, you can chose the ones that will most help you at this juncture in your writing career. Another similar option is to review any CDs you currently own from conferences you previously attended. Generally these are CDs from sessions you could not sit in. If you have enough, you can create your own personalized conference right in the comfort of your own home. I've done that with a set of CDs from a conference I attended two years in a row. I'm still getting mileage from those CDs.

Another idea is to attend an online conference.The one I try to attend every year is The Muse Online Writers Conference. It's as good as if not better than conferences you need to travel to. There are teaching sessions, chats and even agent and publisher pitch sessions. Did I mention that it's free? Check out the website and sign up for next year's conference. You'll never regret it. There are a few others that I've listed below you might also want to check out.


Finally, don't underestimate the value of online writing classes, workshops and webinars. Most magazines geared toward writers offer classes. One example is Writers Digest.  Classes range from genre based to grammar related to writing mechanics. Some universities also offer online classes. I've listed a few resources to get you started.

Christina Katz Classes

So even if your budget or schedule won't allow travel to a conference, don't give up hope. There are plenty of other options available. Choose what works for you and enjoy conferencing at home!

About the author:
 Marietta "Mari" Taylor is the the author of Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go and is monthly blogger for the GoAskMom blog at wral.com. Find out more about Mari at her blog or her website, www.mariettataylor.net.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

As one of the sponsors of the Muse Online Writers Conference, I know how much good it can do. Another one is Jo Linsdell's Promo Day--usually held in May. It's on all thinkgs about book promotion. And D'vorah Lansky does a conference online that's excellent and also has many free features. She always has excellent guest presenters.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Excited about the second edition (now award-winning!) Frugal Book Promoter that also has a chapter on how to make the most of conferences--both for craft and book promotion! (-: http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo

T. Forehand said...

Great post, it is so true, the cost and time away from family has kept me from attending a conference too but it is on my to do list at some point. I love the Muse conference and actually the book I have coming out next year is the result of a pitch there. Thanks for sharing.

Donna McDine said...

Terrific resources of conferences. Yes, the expense is difficult and balancing the time away from home.

Terri, congratulations on your pending book!

My attendance at the Muse Online Conference a few years ago resulted in my first children's book contract which then led to three more with Guardian Angel Publishing.

Award-winning Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
The Golden Pathway Story book Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website
Author PR Services

elysabeth said...

Mari, I've not even seen the option of being able to purchase the recorded sessions of some of the conferences I've attended or wanted to attend, but that is a great idea if the option is available to those who can't make the conference in person.

Definitely if you can find freebies online, take advantage of them as you never know what will come of it.

Another thing to look at is trying to get on as a panelist or workshop presenter at these conferences because sometimes they do comp their presenters, at least travel cost and sometimes the cost of the conference - it just depends on the conference. Some actually pay an honorarium in addition to comping costs - and you won't know if you don't ask. - Happy conferencing and hopefully you all find the right ones for you - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
The Proposal (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance (available as an ebook only)
Bride-and-Seek, a paranormal romance (coming soon as an ebook only)
The Tulip Kiss, a paranormal romance (coming soon as an ebook only)
Butterfly Halves, a YA fantasy (coming soon as an ebook only)

Ma America, The Travelin' Maven
Author of the JGDs, 50-state, mystery, trivia series and Train of Clues (the predecessor to the series)
Where will the adventure take you next?

Magdalena Ball said...

The Muse is great - I've taught there for many years and attended too and always learn something. Another option is to form or join a local writer's critique group. It's different of course from a conference, but similar in that it uses the power of collaboration, coordination, and communication to make each participants work better. I've also enjoyed D'vorah Lansky's conferences and WriteOnCon. There are a lot of wonderful, free or cheap podcasts for writers out there too, often taught by very successful authors. iTunes U has some great courses run out of major world universities (if you've got iTunes - just search the store under iTunes U writing. Most are free and many have video and can be downloaded locally. These aren't just useful for teaching writing skills but for researching topics.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Bookmarked this post and comments for all the great ideas and suggestions. I'd just like to add Savvy Authors who offer so many free and reasonably costed chats and workshops that every day feels like a quasi online writers' conference.

They run writing and editing bootcamps and innumerable pitch sessions with publishers and agents too.

Margaret Fieland said...

Mari, terrific post. I can't say enough good things about the Muse Online Writers Conference. If not for the muse, I wouldn't have two books of fiction in the publications pipeline and a co-authored poetry anthology just out. It had/has a huge, huge, impact on me and my writing life.

Margaret Fieland

Unknown said...

Thanks to everyone for adding their suggestions! I'll be checking those out for myself.

widdershins said...

I have to put in a good word for MuseCon too. I pitched there last year and now have my first published book under my belt. Wouldn't miss it for quids!

Heidiwriter said...

Great tips, Mari. Conferences are always valuable in some way to the attendee, whether in person or on line.

Karen Cioffi said...

Mari, terrific post and resources. LOL it's seems a number of writers got contracts through the Muse Online Writers Con.

I take advantage of the online conferences as it's just too difficult for me to attend most live ones.

Thanks for sharing!

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

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